Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Your Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will passenger cars be allowed to use this highway?
Yes. The E-W Highway will be accessible to all highway traffic, i.e., trucks, cars, etc.  It will be a toll highway.  

2. Will tolls be too expensive for passenger vehicles?
No. Tolls will be cost effective and affordable. The tolls will be similar in scope to the Maine Turnpike.

3. Will the State taxpayers have to pay for any aspect of the project?
The only taxpayer funded portion of this project is the investment grade feasibility study approved by the legislature.  The study will be reimbursed by the developer upon study completion and securing of project finances.  No further taxpayer funding will be sought.  The total cost of the feasibility study is $300,000 with $60,000 to be paid by Maine taxpayers.  The remaining balance will be paid by the federal government.  Currently, the study is on hold pending further details of the locations of interchanges.

4. Where will the on/off ramps be on the highway? How many?
There are six on-off interchanges being planned at this time. Our intent is to improve connectivity to rural communities that the highway passes. The locations of the interchanges will be in the vicinity of the following:  Calais, I-95, Route 15, Route 23, Route 201, Route 16/27. In addition to those listed there is a potential for two additional interchanges in Washington County.

5. How will the land for the Highway be acquired? 
Land will be purchased or leased.  There will NO USE of eminent domain.

6. How will the environmental concerns be addressed?
Along with conforming to both State and Federal permit requirements, we plan to minimize any impacts on environmentally sensitive areas.  We plan to conform to the ISO-14001 compliance standard, the highest standard internationally.  We believe that Maine has an opportunity to be a model for the rest of the country in minimizing environmental impact.  

7. How will access to existing recreational trails be protected or enhanced?

A commitment has been made that access to all recreational trails and easements will not be interrupted.  In fact, a further commitment has been made to create an all-purpose recreational trail within the highway corridor.  This trail will extend the entire length from Calais to Coburn Gore.  This trail will also extend across all bridges along the corridor.  The trail will allow access for snowmobiles, ATV’s, hiking, and biking.  This trail will provide international connectivity to all of the major snowmobile trails and other trail easements along the corridor

8. How will the Highway be managed?
The Highway will be managed by the developer/owner, utilizing the latest technology available and also using local people and resources to maintain and operate the facility.  

9. How will the communications and utility corridor aspects of the Highway be integrated?
It is very difficult to predetermine or define the future needs of utilities. However, we expect that the corridor would be accessible to utility companies well into the future, 50 – 100 years. Any development of this nature within the corridor would require permitting at the State and Federal level. The concept of creating a corridor will have a significant impact on reducing the costs of future utility needs.  

10. How will the Canadian/US border crossing work?
We will work to create a demonstration border crossing, utilizing cutting-edge technology at both border crossings.  

11. How will the toll money be spent?
The toll money will be used to pay back the costs of construction and development for the right-of-way, pay property taxes, and pay operating expenses, i.e., snow removal, law enforcement, and road maintenance.  

12. Why not use the existing Maine rail system?
There is no doubt that the rail system in Maine has and will continue to play a factor in the economic success of Maine.  However, there are applications in which rail is not the best mode for transport.  In the manufacturing and retail industry the term, “Just In Time Delivery”, is how many businesses satisfy their production and sales needs, by shipping or recieving the items they need exactly where they need it, exactly when they need it.  Trucking rather than rail is how these manufacturers and retailers satisfy their needs.

13. Who will own the Highway?
The developer/investor(s) will own the Highway.

14. What is the speed limit?
The speed limit will be 75 miles an hour. 

15. What is the source of the facts presented in this website?
There have been multiple sources of information that have been developed over the past 60 years. Information regarding container traffic, port developments, and demands has come from the Federal Highway Administration.  In addition, the Maine Department of Transportation, New Brunswick Department of Transportation, and Quebec Department of Transportation have collected data that have been used to support the information on the website.  

16.  What makes this route different than other proposals in the past?
Dating back to the 1960’s, multiple studies have been completed. The most recent one, the Can Am study completed in 2008, utilized the same routing: Calais to Bangor via Route 9, Interstate 95 to Newport, Route 2 to Skowhegan/Farmington/Bethel, through New Hampshire Mountains, Vermont and New York. The most recent study of that routing estimated the construction costs at $12.5 billion and 25 years to complete.  Much of the required East-West highway that the State of Maine needs in order to connect to the Midwest is located in Canada, runs parallel to the New Hampshire and Vermont border. What makes this proposal different is that there will be no taxpayer money used develop, build, or maintain the roadway facilities. The proposed route will significantly reduce travel time, enhance connectivity, reduce the carbon footprint and allow Canadian weight limits and tandem trailers. Please recognize that the cost of transporting goods is borne by the consumers. This will have a significant impact on goods that allow Maine companies export, allowing the state's firms to be more competitive and at the same time, allowing goods to move into Maine at a cheaper expense. Think about this – gasoline in Northern Maine is significantly more expensive than gasoline in Southern Maine. This additional cost comes as a result of delivery transportation costs.  

17. How does the E-W Highway improve Maine’s economy?  Looks like the Canadians will benefit from this the most.  
The Highway improves connectivity for many businesses in Maine . There are multiple Maine companies that would ship their goods to the Midwest and overseas because the East West highway would significantly shorten the distance to the Midwest and Atlantic coast. The Highway would also improve transportation for the tourism industry from Atlantic Canada and Western Canada. Significant numbers of Canadians have invested in coastal property from Mount Desert Island to Kittery, Maine. The Canadians will be significant beneficiaries of the Highway; they will also pay for it via the tolls. Maine also benefits from the fact that the Highway is taxable property. Just imagine what the tax on $2 billion in property might be worth to the State of Maine and local municipalities.  The entity that owns the Highway will be a taxable entity as well. Maine will also benefit from the ability to attract new investment in the many communities that are connected to the Highway. Please think about the following. Maine depends heavily on gas taxes for building and repairing its highway system. The people of Maine and the state's visitors are driving more efficient vehicles today then than they have in the past. This has significantly reduced the amount of gasoline and diesel being bought in Maine and reduced the revenue paid to the State of Maine for its road maintenance and construction. We believe that there will be more fuel tax money available as a result of the Highway going through Maine. Also, consider the fact that vehicles which don't have to go over the top of Maine to get to their destination, but instead, go through the state will help to reduce the carbon footprint in Maine and the surrounding areas. There will be numerous opportunities to capitalize on additional economic opportunities for Maine as a result of this highway.  The potential for dramatic port expansion and future port development in the area of the existing Port of Eastport will be tremendously enhanced as a direct result of the highway, by providing direct linkage to a interstate type transportation route.  With travel time predicted to be approximately 15-16 hours from the center of Maine to the Midwest markets, this could realistically enable Maine to emerge as the breadbasket of the Northeast.  The soils, climate, and access to water clearly support the redevelopment of commercial agriculture in a significant way.  Other potential developments could include the creation of large distribution centers similar to the very successful Wal-Mart facility in Lewiston.

18. Is the corridor for the highway 2,000 ft wide and will it encompass 53,000 acres?

No. The highway is four lanes with a forested median, very similar to Interstate 95. The current Stud Mill right of way east of the Penobscot River is 2000 ft wide, only 500 ft will be used for the highway. West of the Penobscot River the right of way will be 500 ft. The 220 mile, 500 ft, highway right of way will encompass approximately 13,250 acres and not the 53,000 acres that is being published by others.

19. Will eminent domain be used to secure property for the corridor?

No. The developer will have no eminent domain rights. The developer will fairly negotiate property purchases with landowners.

20. Will you be building a gas, oil, or tar sand pipeline in the corridor?

No. There are no plans nor have there been any discussions to build a gas, oil, or tar sand pipelines in the corridor. Maine already has existing gas resources via the Maritimes & Northeast pipeline.

21. Will Maine Taxpayers Pay for This Project?

No. The highway will be privately funded, owned and operated. Maine people and Maine companies will build and maintain the highway. Policing will be contracted out to Maine law enforcement agencies and will be paid for by the owner. Funding comes from tolls on the highway.

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